Normal People by Sally Rooney
My favourite books are ones that appear simple. This is one of those books.
On the face of it, Normal People tells the story of a boy and a girl and their on again/off again relationship.
At school, he is the popular one and she is out of place but they get to college and the roles are reversed. They meet other people and try new things but keep falling back to each other’s arms. These apparent soulmates seem to be able to talk about everything but the things that matter the most and their relationship is painful to follow at times. You find yourself yelling at them to rethink their choices (always a good look when reading in public).
This story is set in Dublin and I want to describe it as a modern classic. It is a coming of age tale of two kids, both damaged and challenged, albeit in different ways, but still very much in love. There are themes of control, anxiety, social status and peer pressure.
Warning kids….there’s also lots of sex. Not gratuitous sex (there is nothing gratuitous about this book) but sex that helps to understand the characters and what they are dealing with.
To me, Sally Rooney’s writing is also deceptively simple. It appears at times quite mechanical but ebbs forwards and back and is so much more complex and considered than it appears. It is tender, tortured, personal and real.
Normal People was published in August and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize pretty much simultaneously. The message is simple – put it on your Christmas list and read it.
And that’s my 2 cents worth.